Queensland heroes including Johnathan Thurston, Giaan Rooney, Kevin Walters, Susie O’Neill and Ben Roberts-Smith came together with Sony Music artists Guy Sebastian, Dami Im and The Ten Tenors today at a star studded event and raised $375,000 to contribute to funding Queensland’s first youth cancer centre, a project by Sony Foundation.
But the real hero was 25 year old Rachel Gray from Brisbane, currently facing her third cancer diagnosis since the age of 21. She delivered a speech at ‘Brissy4Ward’ to the high profile attendees across entertainment, media and business about why a specialised ‘You Can’ youth cancer centre is so desperately needed in Queensland.
“This Centre will make such a huge difference to so many young people fighting cancer and provide a place they can go to and relax, hang out with friends and family, be away from the clinical environment of the ward and share stories with other youths and know they are not alone,” said Rachel.
Sony Foundation announced on June 18 alongside Premier Palaszczuk, a commitment of $1.8 million to fund Australia’s largest You Can Centre at the Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital. Set to open in May 2019, the centre for young people aged 15 – 25 years with cancer will “be a game-changer,”said Hon. Palaszczuk. A hub for clinical research to advance treatment and increase survival rates. The Centre will also be a social haven away from the hospital wards with relaxation areas, the latest Sony entertainment technology, kitchen/dining, areas for study, yoga and consult rooms, an outdoor courtyard and most importantly, a space for young people to be together providing peer support.
Approximately three young Queenslanders aged 15 – 25 are diagnosed with cancer every week in Queensland and about 140 patients are treated at RBWH each year. Despite more people being diagnosed with cancer in this age group than children, for too long they have lacked the specialised treatment and care needed. These young Australians were identified as falling through the gaps in the medical system in a senate inquiry in 2005 due to the current split between paediatric and adult cancer care resulting in a lack of specialised and age appropriate treatment, which in turn, has a profound impact on their survival rates.
To address this, Sony Foundation has funded four You Can Centres in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to date, and aims to have a national network of You Can Centres committed to by 2019. The You Can Centres also aim to ease the alarming lifetime costs for a young person diagnosed with cancer estimated at $1.3 million, of which approximately 70% is borne by the individual in ongoing health costs and an impact the ability to work.
“Today, we send a strong message to all young people facing cancer that they are not alone. They are our responsibility, they are our purpose and they are our future. Thanks to events like Brissy4Ward that draw together this country’s leading businesses across media, entertainment and corporate, funds raised will help fund the Brisbane You Can Centre. These specialised youth cancer centres are changing lives around the country,” said Sophie Ryan, CEO Sony Foundation.
Beyond the centres, Sony Foundation has funded services, a virtual You Can Centre called You Can Connect (www.youcan.org.au) and innovative research including Australia’s largest Virtual Reality research grant ($500,000) for using the technology to improve youth cancer care.
The immersive technology is transforming healthcare across pain management, physical rehabilitation and anxiety and is intended to be used (based on the research findings) throughout Sony Foundation’s national network of You Can Centres and contribute to addressing a gap in age appropriate cancer care for 15-25 year olds in Australia.
Currently in its 20th year, the Foundation recently hit a huge milestone of $30 million in total funds raised firmly placing it within the top 1% of fundraising charities nationally largely due to its award winning events Wharf4Ward in Sydney and River4Ward in Melbourne. Brissy4Ward is set to become an annual event drawing the best of Sony entertainment.
More information: www.sonyfoundation.org